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Impact measurement and management

We aim to continuously improve the positive social impact of our products, solutions, and activities, and minimize their negative impacts. We have made our contributions to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) transparent in our reporting since 2015. With the support of internal and external experts, we have also developed an overarching approach we can use to measure the impact of our activities – our blueprint as it were. This is based on a six-tiered formula that enables us to identify and evaluate causal relationships.

To ensure transparency and comparability of the results, we use external frameworks to describe the effects of our contributions. These include both the SDGs and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The first step when measuring impact is to examine the consequences that a project, product, or activity (such as switching from paper billing to online billing, for instance) has for material key topics on an ecological, social, and economic footing. We then use the resultant findings to assess the associated SDG impact from a global perspective and to support the internal management and communication of corresponding activities.

In 2018, we introduced impact measurement for various activities and products. In doing so, we ensured that the methods we use are transparent, are based on robust data and assumptions, and are effective for several years. Moreover, we have described the relevant starting point, or baseline, as accurately as possible so that the concrete impact on the SDGs can be evaluated reliably. The results are both qualitative and quantitative in nature and are presented in the following sections.

Impact measurement: Broadband expansion

We examined one of our core topics – broadband expansion.

Broadband expansion has a positive impact on many aspects of society and helps to deliver the SDGs.

  • Improved network coverage (SDGs 9 and 17) can create new jobs, as a growing number of new businesses are established, for instance (SDG 8). Average income and gross domestic product also increase as a result.
  • Network expansion also lays the foundation for many other positive effects, such as improved and more equal access to digital services in the educational and health care field for example (SDGs 34, and10).

However, network expansion also has negative consequences:

  • On an intermittent and one-off basis, the civil engineering works that have to be undertaken to expand infrastructure consume resources, generate emissions, and infringe on natural habitats.
  • The expansion of higher-performance network infrastructure can lead to increased energy demand.

To mitigate these effects, we are expanding our network in an energy-efficient manner and increasingly using renewable energies (SDG 7), which means that, in the long term, the positive impacts will outweigh the negative consequences.

Impact measurement: Online billing

Gradually switching from paper billing to online billing is a good example of the sustainability potential inherent in digitalization. We applied our new approach to impact measurement in order to analyze the effects more closely for Deutsche Telekom. This involved assessing the entire impact chain for both paper and online billing.

  • Our comparison shows that the negative environmental consequences of online billing are more than 50 percent lower than those associated with paper billing. Striking elements include a lower consumption of paper and ink and reduced logistics services (SDGs 36789111213, and 14).

We have identified the potential negative consequences of this measure as a drop in sales for the timber and paper industries and logistics sector. However, these consequences are less substantial than the positive effects.

Impact measurement: Eco-conscious packaging

We are working to reduce as much as possible the amount of materials we use in packaging and in the devices we buy. In 2018, we applied our impact measurement methodology to analyze the effects of packaging improvements for one of our core products. Even before then, we had already started to reduce the amount of packaging used for various products. In 2019 we took this approach further, reducing the amount of packaging materials for more products and switching to alternative packaging materials. For example, by using 100 percent biodegradable PaperFoam for one product, we are saving approximately 95 metric tons of paper and around 200 metric tons of CO2 (per 250,000 packaging units). For 2020, as part of our “We Care for Our Planet” program, we are also planning to redesign the casing of the Speedport 4 router and our media receivers. In the future, they will be made from 100 percent recycled materials.

In total, the switchover benefits nine SDGs, with a particularly striking impact on certain sub-goals of SDGs 6, 12, 13, and 14, such as lowering water pollution, CO2 emissions, and the use of plastics.

Impact measurement: Our contribution to respect for human rights

The following diagram illustrates the positive impact that can be achieved in both our value chain and society through our commitment to human rights.

Human rights impact

In 2019 we conducted a Human Rights Impact Assessment at unit-Systems in India. It looked at the topics such as working hours, mental and physical stress and work-life balance as well as discrimination and working conditions of employees ou our suppliers..

We developed and introduced a range of improvement measures based on this assessment. Besides changes to the way work is planned, these included various measures for raising awareness, such as workshops designed to explain overtime regulations.

With such specific measures we have a chance to have an positive impact on SDGs 3 and 8 and contribute towards the recommendations of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Impact measurement: Media literacy

Turning to the topic of media literacy, we analyzed our Teachtoday initiative.

The learning methods employed with Teachtoday appeal to multiple senses. According to our results, which we obtained together with the auditors from PwC, such methods are more than twice as effective as learning methods that only appeal to one sense (SDG 4).